Air France-KLM has $290m held in Venezuela

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Air France-KLM Group estimates that $290 million worth of airline tickets sales is trapped in Venezuela due to rigid currency controls.

The Venezuelan government is preventing foreign airlines from repatriating income obtained in local currency after an increasing number of Venezuelans used unrestricted airline tickets to obtain foreign currencies for travel.

For the past few months, airlines have been locked in a battle with President Nicolas Maduro's government as they seek to repatriate funds. The situation worsened in January when the government said revenue from ticket sales in bolivares would now be converted at a new exchange rate almost twice as high as the official Bs6.30 per dollar exchange rate.

SkyTeam member Air Europa stopped selling tickets in Venezuela last month. The Venezuelan government reportedly promised the Spanish carrier a combination of cash, government bonds and jet fuel in response.

Air France-KLM chief executive Alexandre de Juniac declines to negotiate repayments in bonds or fuel: “It is not the type of instrument we are interested in. We are more looking to repatriate the funds to Europe.

“We stopped selling tickets a few weeks ago. There are $3.3 billion at stake for the global industry and there are ongoing discussions with IATA to recover the funds.”

Ecuador's TAME suspended flights to Venezuela in January, saying it is owed $43 million.

Earlier this month, Copa Airlines said it had $487 million in Venezuela pending repatriation.